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MCEF Presents “Legislative Champion” Award to Representative Tom Barrett

LANSING — The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) presented a “Legislative Champion” award today to Representative Tom Barrett (R-Potterville). This award recognizes Representative Barrett’s work to promote legislative solutions that increase ratepayer protection and safeguard the property rights of individuals seeking to generate their own electricity through residential solar. 

“From property rights to solar taxation and a focus on utility companies’ accountability to ratepayers, Representative Barrett has championed energy issues that affect the success of not only the clean energy industry, but the wellbeing of Michiganders and their right to self-generation of clean and renewable energy,” said Larry Ward, MCEF executive director. “MCEF thanks him for his commitment to solving the serious energy challenges facing our state. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues in the legislature as we continue our efforts in 2018.”

“I am honored to receive this award and appreciate the recognition of my hard work,” said Representative Tom Barrett. “Energy policy directly affects every Michigander and I will continue to support conservative policy solutions that will drive innovation, create jobs, and protect ratepayers.” 

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About MCEF:The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Public Service Commission missed the mark with distributed generation order

LANSING – The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) issued the following statement in response to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) recent order that changes how residents are compensated for electricity generated through solar. The order establishes a billing system in which residents with solar buy energy from the grid at their utility company’s retail rate, but must sell energy they generate themselves back to the utility at a lower rate based on the utility company’s avoided cost:

“The billing system established by the MPSC for distributed generation (DG) customers is not in compliance with Public Act 341 of 2016. Rather than complete an outflow cost of service study to establish a DG tariff as required by the legislature in Subsection 6a (14) of PA 341, the MPSC staff instead presented a cost of service study on the inflow portion alone, rejecting the policy established by elected officials. MCEF is dismayed by the indefensible action taken today by the Commission, and frustrated that the MPSC ignored the input of so many stakeholders in the work group. The order reflects a capricious lack of respect for the law and demonstrates just how much sway the utilities have over their own regulators. It is the responsibility of the MPSC to implement the law as written, not establish policy of its own choosing.

“The Commission made significant changes to the current net metering program that will effectively undermine solar in Michigan. This is about more than renewable energy – it’s about an individual’s right to produce electricity on their own private property. Who is looking out for the ratepayer if not the MPSC? Distributed generation benefits us all in the form of better reliability and grid security. Residents who want to be more energy independent and generate their own electricity should receive a fair and equitable rate for the energy they provide to the grid – today’s order by the Public Service Commission ensures just the opposite. As a result, solar energy will be much less cost-effective for Michigan residents seeking to reduce their electricity bills by generating their own energy.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Michigan Conservative Energy Forum announces leadership change

Rivet to replace Ward as MCEF executive director in May

LANSING – The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced today that Larry Ward will be stepping down from his role as executive director in mid-May, and will be succeeded by longtime conservative political activist Ed Rivet.

Ward, who founded MCEF in 2013, has helped usher in conservative solutions to address the energy challenges facing our state, educating policymakers and the public on the economic, security, and conservation benefits of renewable energy. MCEF has worked to depoliticize energy policy and advance an “all of the above” diversified energy portfolio that is reliable, affordable, sustainable, and increasingly clean and efficient for Michigan ratepayers.

MCEF played a role in the passage of the 2016 historic bipartisan energy laws, and most recently has focused its attention on electric ratepayer protection, leveling the playing field and creating market access for innovative energy technologies, as well as addressing consumer choice and competition in Michigan’s energy markets.

Ward’s new role has yet-to-be-announced, but he will continue the work he started at MCEF to advance conservative solutions to clean energy issues at the regional level.

Rivet announced his departure from the Right to Life of Michigan earlier this week, where he served as legislative director for over 30 years. He will be joining the MCEF team on May 14. He has been a member of the MCEF Leadership Council since 2014.

“I am proud of what MCEF has accomplished in the last four years,” said Ward. “My team has been a trailblazer, leading the conservative clean energy movement that has spread throughout the country. We’ve demonstrated that energy is an issue that affects all Michiganders – no matter where on the political spectrum they fall. While we have made great progress in advancing homegrown energy solutions that protect ratepayers, secure our grid, conserve our natural resources, draw significant investment to the state, and create thousands of good-paying local jobs – there is still more work to do. There is no better person to lead MCEF into a new era than Ed Rivet. His policy acumen, relationships in Lansing, and his passion for energy issues will propel the organization for many years to come. I wish Ed the very best as he takes on this new challenge, and I look forward to working with him in a new capacity going forward.”

“I am ready and excited for this new challenge,” said Rivet. “I believe that energy issues are inextricably linked with the quality of life of Michiganders. But our state’s transition to clean, renewable energy not only improves the health of children, mothers, and seniors – it secures far more benefits in the form of stimulating our economy, creating local jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, giving consumers choices about how and when they use energy, and leveling the playing field so new technology has access to markets and customers. As someone who has installed geothermal and solar panels on my private property, I’ve seen firsthand the immense economic benefits of clean energy. Throughout the years, MCEF has demonstrated that renewable energy is not a partisan issue, and I look forward to advancing solutions that are smart, balanced, and position our state for further economic success in the national and global energy markets.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Dispelling myths about clean energy, advancing conservative policy solutions focus of MCEF Catalyst Conference

Legislators, conservative and energy industry leaders discuss technological innovation, polling, and policy at 4th annual conference

LANSING – The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum’s (MCEF) 4th Annual Catalyst Conference, “The Truth About Renewable Energy”, held yesterday at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing, engaged various energy, business, and conservative leaders in a conversation on the common myths and misconceptions of clean energy.

“Clean energy industries like wind, biomass, hydro, solar, and landfill gas are already paving the way for a bright energy future in our state,” said Larry Ward, MCEF executive director. “These industries are supporting Michigan communities, powering homes, schools, and businesses, and creating local jobs that can’t be outsourced. While misconceptions about renewable energy abounds, MCEF is committed to working with legislators, the Michigan Public Service Commission, business leaders, and fellow conservatives to promote smart conservative solutions that establish our state as a national leader in the energy transformation that is underway.”

The conference featured a panel of representatives from the solar, wind, biomass, and landfill gas industries, including: Casey May, Director of Market Development at Cypress Creek Renewables; Brad Pnazek, Senior Development Manager at Tradewind Energy; Gary Melow, Director of Michigan Biomass; and Jim Grant, North America CEO at Energy Developments Ltd.

Presenters spoke about the technological innovation taking place in energy markets, the importance of diversifying our energy resources, and how renewables can – and do – positively impact electric rates, reliability, and the state economy.

“In many markets across the country we have grid parity, meaning solar on its own can compete and even beat the economics of more traditional generation sources,” said Casey May, Director of Market Development at Cypress Creek Renewables. “It is a common misconception that renewables – and solar in particular – are a liberal issue, or off limits for conservative discussion. It is not a liberal issue. In reality, it can’t be; it’s a story of American achievement and innovation – and I would argue is wholly bipartisan.”

May added: “Utility scale solar developers – we’re not guaranteed any rate of return, unlike the traditional utilities. We are taking on that risk to compete, all the while investing, providing lease income to families across the state, across the country, we’re stabilizing farms. And this is happening in rural America. We are investing millions and millions of dollars in places that have missed out on a lot of the investment and economic growth that has happened over the last three decades. The inertia is there and conservative principles are at the heart of this.”

Representative John Reilly (R – 46th district) touched on the topics of energy innovation, market access, and competition in his remarks, as well as what the House Affordable Energy Caucus will set out to do in 2018.

“Ultimately economics leads policy progress, not politics,” said Reilly. “Propping up monopolies is trying to make war with nature.”

State Senator Mike Shirkey (R – 16th district), member of the Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee, delivered the keynote address in which he shared his personal experience with renewable energy technologies and his views of how the state legislature and regulators can forge ahead with future energy policy that is efficient, effective, and protects ratepayers.

“I’d like to change the theme for today to dispelling the myths of resisting technological change,” said Shirkey. “Change is hard, but the alternative of resisting change – the costs are too high. We can choose to try to preserve our comfort zone and preserve the status quo. But I believe what we should be doing is embracing and exploiting – and exploiting in a completely positive way – the opportunities represented by technology today, particularly in the energy field.”

Shirkey added: “The longer we resist change in this arena the more dangerous, the more costly, and the less competitive we will be driving ourselves to.”

The conference also featured a presentation from Mark Pischea, president of the Conservative Energy Network (CEN), on new national energy polling conducted by Public Opinion Strategies. The CEN poll found that Republicans across the country, especially Trump voters, support the transition to cleaner forms of energy like solar.

MCEF promotes an “all of the above” approach to energy production that emphasizes a transition to cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient sources that will stimulate the state economy, create jobs, and increase our national and grid security.

The event also featured an awards ceremony recognizing various energy industry and policy leaders:

  • The Legislative Champion Award was presented to Representative Tom Barrett for his promotion of conservative legislative solutions to protect ratepayers and property rights for residential solar generation.
  • Former executive director of the Michigan Agency of Energy, Valerie Brader, received the MCEF Clean Energy Champion Award for her exceptional work in helping to craft the state’s 2016 historic, bipartisan energy legislation that increased our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Michigan Biomass director Gary Melow also received the Clean Energy Champion Award for his instrumental work to protect Michigan independent power producers and promote conservative and common-sense solutions for homegrown, baseload, and clean power.
  • The inaugural class of MCEF Youth Fellows were formally recognized, and outgoing MCEF Leadership Council Member and Board President Mark Huizenga, mayor of Walker, MI, received the Founder’s Award for his outstanding service as a founding member of the organization.

“We are witnessing a revolution in our energy markets, driven by the cost competitiveness of clean energy,” said Mark Huizenga, outgoing MCEF Leadership Council Member, Mayor of Walker, MI, and owner of Key Green Solutions. “Despite the positive changes we have seen in our economy, security, environment, and health from the growth of renewables, there are still those who choose to perpetuate misconceptions about clean energy, or those who seek comfort in the status quo. Today’s conference seeks to clear up the common misbeliefs about renewable energy, and spark an honest dialogue about the energy transformation taking place throughout our state, country, and the world, and how legislative and regulatory solutions, in conjunction with a more open and free market, are driving these changes right here in Michigan.”

Ward concludes: “Clean energy truly is the future. But we must be smart and diligent in developing policy solutions and encouraging technological innovation that spurs job creation, attracts investments, lowers rates, protects our grid and national security, and conserves our natural resources. I hope the conversations we had today serve as a catalyst over the next year, helping to bring that next big policy idea or technological development closer to fruition.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Proposed 30% renewable portfolio standard not right solution for Michigan

Michigan Conservative Energy Forum opposes proposed ballot initiative, focuses instead on innovation, electricity competition

LANSING – On Tuesday, February 13 the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved a ballot initiative petition to raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 30% by 2030, up from the 15% by 2021 currently required under Public Act 342 of 2016. The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) opposes the initiative, arguing the state should instead focus on expanding competition, opening market access, and leveling the playing field for independent clean energy producers.

MCEF believes the framework established in the 2016 energy package (Public Acts 341 and 342), including the current 15% RPS, combined 35% renewable energy and energy efficiency goal advocated by Republican Governor Snyder, and the integrated resource planning process, should all be allowed to play out as the State Legislature had intended.

“Given technological advances and market forces, we're optimistic Michigan will move well past its 15% RPS without a new legal mandate,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “The state’s utilities are already on track to meet and exceed the current RPS and combined 35% renewable energy/energy waste reduction goals established by public acts 341 and 342 of 2016. What our state needs is a level playing field for renewable energy sources – with more competition, we will see this industry continue to thrive.”

If approved by voters in the November general election, the ballot initiative, introduced by Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan, would establish a legal mandate for state-regulated utilities to increase their use of renewable energy to 30% by 2030. A similar measure to implement a 25% RPS by 2025 was struck down by Michigan voters in 2012. Unlike the previous ballot initiative, the proposed 30% measure will not seek an amendment to the state Constitution.

“Clean energy is the future,” said Ed Rivet, MCEF Leadership Council member and conservative political activist. “We are moving in the direction of microgrids, customer-owned generation, and further structural separation of energy production from distribution. However, interference in our economy and energy market by out-of-state interests to override our current laws is not the way to further spur the growth of Michigan’s renewable energy industry. On the contrary, the market is taking care of that on its own, as demonstrated by the substantial – and continual – drop in renewable energy costs over the years.”

According to the recent Lazard report on the levelized cost of energy, renewable energy costs are declining quickly, becoming cost-competitive with, and oftentimes cheaper than, natural gas or coal-fired generation. Wind and utility-scale solar prices have on average declined 67% and 86%, respectively, since 2009.

“Competition and innovation are the answer – not a new RPS,” said Jake Putala, MCEF Leadership Council member and former MCEF youth fellow. “Let’s open markets and allow clean energy producers direct access to the market. Competition is a win-win; there is already significant consumer demand for renewables – opening our energy market will spark further investment and innovation in the state, creating jobs, and lowering rates.”

MCEF will continue to educate lawmakers and work with in-state stakeholders to encourage policy solutions that build upon Michigan’s historic, bipartisan 2016 energy laws and pursue a diverse “all of the above” energy strategy that ensures affordable, reliable, and efficient energy for years to come.

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MPSC report highlights affordability of renewable energy, success of energy laws

LANSING – Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF), issued the following statement regarding annual renewable energy and energy waste reduction reports released this week by the Michigan Public Service Commission:

“The reports by the Michigan Public Service Commission prove that renewable energy is competitive in Michigan and helps attract billions of dollars in investment, creating jobs across the state. Thanks to bipartisan, comprehensive energy policy signed into law in 2016, we can expect further growth in Michigan’s clean energy sector and increased investments in energy efficiency, which will keep Michigan competitive and secure affordable and reliable energy for ratepayers.”

Key findings of the report include:

·         Savings of $4.29 for every $1 spent on energy efficiency programs.

·         Michigan has seen $3.3 billion of investment for renewable energy projects since the 2008 passage of Public Act 295. These investments have resulted in the addition of 1,670 megawatts through 2017.

·         Average costs for renewable energy contracts are cheaper than coal, with just $72.60 per megawatt hour for renewable energy, compared to $133 per megawatt hour for coal.

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

 

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MCEF Announces New Addition to Leadership Council

LANSING — Today the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced the addition of Jake Putala to its Leadership Council. Putala is a member of the First Congressional District Republican Youth Subcommittee, the Michigan DNR Youth Conservation Council, and serves on the board for the U.P. Whitetails Baraga County Chapter. Prior to his involvement on the Leadership Council, Putala was one of five individuals chosen for the inaugural MCEF Youth Fellowship Program in 2017. 

The MCEF Leadership Council is comprised of conservative leaders who believe Michigan needs to diversify its energy portfolio and move towards a true “All of the Above” generation mix, with an emphasis on transitioning to cleaner and more renewable forms of energy.

“Michigan’s young Republicans are making it known that energy is an issue they care deeply about,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “Whether for economic, security, or stewardship reasons, our state’s youth are passionate about securing an energy future that is affordable, reliable, and renewable. Jake Putala has been working to spread awareness of the energy crisis in the U.P. and to promote policy solutions like clean energy that will benefit the region he calls home. The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is proud to welcome him to our Leadership Council.”

“Energy policy directly affects the lives of all Michiganders, but especially the residents of the U.P. where our electricity rates are among the highest in the nation,” said  Putala, Upper Peninsula native and MCEF Leadership Council Member. “I believe that conservative principles such as free markets and competition will drive down the cost of electricity, encourage innovation, and lead to a diverse and robust energy industry in our great state.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Releases Statement on Valerie Brader Resignation

LANSING – In response to the Michigan Agency for Energy’s (MAE) announcement today that executive director Valerie Brader is resigning, the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) released the following statement:

“During her tenure as executive director, Valerie Brader helped move Michigan toward an ‘all-of-the above’ energy policy that has helped reduce energy waste across the state and provided more renewable energy options for Michigan residents, and MCEF applauds her service,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “Among other accomplishments, Ms. Brader helped develop Michigan’s landmark 2016 energy laws that are creating jobs, sparking innovation in the energy sector, attracting businesses to Michigan, and helping ensure families have affordable, reliable, and clean energy for years to come. We thank Ms. Brader for her dedication to this great state and wish her all the best in her next endeavor. We hope to work with her again in the future, and in the meantime, we look forward to continuing our work with the MAE, the Michigan Public Service Commission, and the Legislature to elevate Michigan to a national clean energy leader.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Announces New Addition to Leadership Council

LANSING — Today the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced the addition of Andrew Kapanowski to its Leadership Council. Kapanowski is the chair of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans. He is pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Finance at Ferris State University, where he is also the vice president of the College Republicans. In addition to his involvement on the Leadership Council, Kapanowski was one of five individuals chosen for the inaugural MCEF Youth Fellowship Program this year. 

The MCEF Leadership Council is comprised of conservative leaders who believe Michigan needs to diversify its energy portfolio and move towards a true “All of the Above” generation mix, with an emphasis on transitioning to cleaner and more renewable forms of energy.

“Michigan’s young professionals and college students are increasingly driving progress in our state’s policy landscape,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “Whether for economic, security, or stewardship reasons, our state’s youth are passionate about securing an energy future that is affordable, reliable, and renewable. Andrew Kapanowski is helping to mobilize his fellow young conservatives across the state to engage with policy issues like clean energy, to the benefit of all and the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is proud to welcome him to our Leadership Council team.”

“I am interested in energy solutions that are driven by sound economics,” said Andrew Kapanowski, MCEF leadership council member. “Clean and efficient energy solutions that are pro-free market, reliable, and affordable for Michigan ratepayers are the future. I look forward to working with the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum to help our great state achieve these energy goals and remain competitive regionally and nationally.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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State Taxation of Alternative Energy Systems Lacks Clarity, Dis-incentivizes Clean Energy

MCEF testifies in support of proposed HB 5143, which seeks to clear up inconsistencies in local government assessments of distributed energy systems      

LANSING — Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF), delivered testimony last Wednesday during the House Tax Policy Committee in support of Representative Tom Barrett’s (R – District 71) proposed House Bill 5143. Ward issued the following statement:

“Whether for economic, faith, or environmental reasons, MCEF believes that property owners have the right to decide how to power their homes and businesses. And we believe they should not be penalized for choosing to generate their own renewable power. The current state government taxation approach on alternative energy systems lacks clarity and creates confusion across our state, dis-incentivizing individuals who want to invest in clean energy installations.

“Currently, there is no clear approach to assessing self-generation installations – it is a patchwork across the state, where counties and cities apply personal property taxes in some areas, while other localities refrain from doing so. We need to move toward a clear, uniform approach to property taxation to allow greater certainty, which will in turn attract investments from individuals and businesses looking to expand clean energy technologies in our state. HB 5143 will accomplish this.”

Ward concludes: “HB 5143 will also hinder government from further infringing on people’s private property, instead allowing residential property owners greater control over their electricity bills and greater choice over where and how they get their energy, regardless of their zip code.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Announces Inaugural Youth Fellowship Program

LANSING — Today the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced its inaugural class of research Fellows, a select group of college students conducting research to educate and engage state policymakers and the public on the energy challenges facing Michigan.

The 2017 class of Fellows includes: Andrew Kapanowski, Ferris State University; Jackson Keith, Michigan State University; Emily Pallarito, Michigan State University; Jake Putala, Lansing Community College; and Luke Siettas, Michigan State University.

The MCEF Youth Fellowship Program offers college students and young professionals the opportunity to engage with energy policy experts, conduct and publish their own relevant research on a topic of their choosing, and advocate for energy policy improvements at the local and state level, while learning valuable skills and building relationships for a future career in the public sector.

This 10-week program will culminate in a legislative reception where the Fellows can share their findings and speak with state policymakers about the benefits of transitioning Michigan to clean, renewable, and more efficient energy sources while saving ratepayers money and improving electricity reliability.

“On behalf of our staff and Leadership Council, I am excited to welcome the inaugural class of Fellows to the MCEF team,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “The Youth Fellowship Program has been a year in the making; I am grateful for the hard work of our staff, as well as the generous sponsorship by Michigan CAT, to help make this program a success. These young students embody the future of public service in Michigan. Their passion for Michigan energy solutions and their dedication to issue education at such a young age is admirable. I look forward to working with them.”

A native of Dexter, Michigan, Kapanowski is studying Business Administration, with a minor in Finance at Ferris State University, where he serves as the Chair of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans. Kapanowski’s research project involves the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program in Michigan.

“As a business major, I am very interested in learning about energy solutions that are economically efficient,” said Kapanowski. “Michigan is living up to its ‘comeback state’ moniker, and I want to do my part to help further this economic momentum by raising awareness of free-market, clean energy solutions that will be beneficial for Michigan families and businesses. The Fellowship will be a valuable learning experience and I look forward to shining light on some of the great energy opportunities facing our state.”

Originally from Monroe County, Keith is in his final semester at Michigan State University studying Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Digital Marketing. Keith has held several internships prior to his work with MCEF, including experience working with Congressman Mike Bishop and the Sterling Corporation. Keith’s research will focus on autonomous and electric vehicles.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with MCEF to help advance ‘All of the Above’ energy solutions in Michigan,” said Keith. “The state and our nation are experiencing technological advancements that are disrupting the way we use electricity, from powering our homes to driving our cars. With the onset of autonomous electric vehicle technologies, and Michigan’s strong manufacturing base, I believe there is untapped potential for our state to lead this energy transition.”

Originally from northern Michigan, Pallarito is a junior at Michigan State University, double majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: Community Governance & Advocacy and Public Policy. Pallarito is the President of the MSU Students for Life, as well as a member of Spartans for Israel and MSU College Republicans. She will be researching the economic and environmental benefits of biomass energy.

“I have seen firsthand how renewable energy helps stimulate the economy by creating jobs and promoting ecotourism,” said Pallarito. “An ‘All of the Above’ approach to energy policy is the correct method to power our grid with affordable and reliable energy that Michiganders can count on. I am excited to be a part of this program and I look forward to working with MCEF to shed light on the value of biomass power.”

A native of Pelkie, Michigan, Putala is now studying political science at Lansing Community College and interning for State Senator Tom Casperson. Putala has previous experience working with the Michigan Republican Party, as well as with various local, state, and national campaigns. His research will focus on the energy crisis in the Upper Peninsula.

“Living in the Upper Peninsula has sparked a real interest in energy reform,” said Putala. “There is a disparity in electric rates and reliability between the two peninsulas, and I am interested in studying ways to bring U.P. electricity prices down through alternative energy technologies or updates to our transmission system. The hardworking U.P. families and businesses deserve better. I plan to help positively impact the northern Michigan energy landscape, or at least further the conversation on ways to address the U.P. energy crisis, through this fellowship.”

Originally from Maryland, Siettas is now earning his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations with a minor in Japanese from Michigan State University. Siettas is a member of the Michigan Army National Guard. Most recently, he interned in the Constituent Relations Division of the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder. Siettas will research solar projects on MSU’s campus.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to work with MCEF and conduct independent research on solar energy policy in Michigan,” said Siettas. “When addressing potential policy solutions, we must first understand the current limitations of technology and demands of the economy. This is the approach I hope to take with my research and an approach that I believe will ultimately aid our inevitable transition to cleaner forms of energy while providing a clear route to securing competitive jobs, investments, and security in the future.”

The Youth Fellowship Program is co-sponsored by Michigan CAT.

For more information about the program, or to inquire about the application process for 2018, please contact Joanna Lewis at jlewis@micef.org.

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Clean Energy Advocates Celebrate National Bioenergy Day, Highlight Economic and Environmental Benefits of Biomass

LANSING — Today bioenergy industry groups, supply chain, partners and advocates across the country are celebrating the fifth annual National Bioenergy Day. Michigan Biomass and the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) have issued the following statements commemorating the immense economic and forest health benefits of biomass power in communities across the state:

“Michigan’s biomass facilities support hundreds of jobs across the supply chain, and bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue, helping to boost local economies in areas of the state that need it most,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “Biomass also contributes to Michigan’s renewable energy goals, bringing the state closer to its 15% renewable portfolio standard.”

“Biomass power is a unique homegrown, baseload renewable energy source,” said Gary Melow, director of Michigan Biomass. “Biomass is made from local resources – leftovers from timber harvest and land management practices that are collected from our forests – and goes right back into communities to power homes and businesses with reliable energy, creating local jobs, and stabilizing the electric grid.”

“An ‘all of the above’ energy portfolio in Michigan must make use of biomass,” said Emily Pallarito, a MCEF Fellow. “Not only does biomass help provide reliable and affordable electricity to Michiganders, but the industry is a significant contributor to forest health as well. This helps to protect our abundant resources from wildfire and support our state’s ecotourism industry.”

To learn more about National Bioenergy Day, visit http://bioenergyday.com/. For updates in real time, follow @MCEF_MI and @MichiganBiomass on Twitter and use the hashtag #bioenergyday.

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

About Michigan Biomass: Michigan Biomass is a coalition that advocates for the state’s wood-fired biomass power plants. For more information, please visit http://www.michiganbiomass.com/.

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MCEF Hosts Luncheon with Representative Gary Glenn

MACKINAC ISLAND — The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) hosted a luncheon today featuring notable guest State Representative Gary Glenn (R - Williams Twp.), Chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, during the 32nd Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.

MCEF Leadership Council Members, Fellows, and staff were in attendance to speak with Rep. Glenn about Michigan’s recent clean energy progress and discuss conservative solutions to the energy challenges still facing the state and its electric ratepayers.

“I enjoyed meeting with the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum to discuss our state’s energy landscape,” said Representative Glenn. “There is still progress to be made to make Michigan a national energy leader, to open up competition in the marketplace, and to bring down rates. The House Energy Policy Committee will continue to work towards comprehensive energy solutions that improve our economy and diversify our energy sources, while holding utilities and regulators accountable to the people of Michigan.”

“We appreciate Representative Glenn speaking with us about Michigan’s energy future and how conservatives can lead on energy policy issues,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “There is great opportunity for Michigan to build upon last year’s energy legislation and continue to improve electric reliability and affordability for ratepayers. MCEF remains committed to working with the Michigan Public Service Commission, State Legislature, and Michigan Agency for Energy to transition our state to cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient forms of energy.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MPSC Must Ensure Fair Electric Rates for U.P. Residents

MCEF urges MPSC to protect Upper Peninsula ratepayers, highlights transmission solutions, jobs during public hearing in Marquette

MARQUETTE — Joanna Lewis, program administrator of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF), delivered public commentary today in Marquette at the final hearing held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Integrated Resource Plan requirements.

The MPSC is developing guidelines for utility Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) as required under the state’s new energy laws. Utilities will use the parameters determined by the MPSC to develop IRPs that address demand response, energy waste reduction, environmental requirements, supply sufficiency, and other considerations.

“Electric rates in the Upper Peninsula are excessive – placing an immense burden on hardworking families and small business owners,” said Lewis. “The U.P. deserves cost-effective solutions that improve infrastructure and make use of new technologies to ensure consistent access to affordable energy around the clock.

“Improving and extending the Upper Peninsula’s transmission lines will help alleviate the challenges facing northern Michigan. While the long-term goal should be to retain Michigan’s competitiveness, create jobs, and draw investment to our state through homegrown clean energy production, we must act now to ensure that all residents have the cheapest and cleanest power that they demand. We can achieve this through transmission – by bringing in wind energy from other states, or even hydropower from Canada. It is up to the MPSC to ensure that utilities consider transmission in their IRPs.”

Lewis concludes: “Residential ratepayers, especially those here today and throughout the rest of the Upper Peninsula, are often left without a voice in the decision-making process. We must not forget our responsibility to these individuals. MCEF looks forward to working with the MPSC to hold utilities accountable to all Michiganders and to ensure Michigan ratepayers receive affordable, reliable, and clean energy for years to come.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Calls for Increased Ratepayer Protection, Highlights Independent Power Producers, Jobs at MPSC Hearing

MCEF urges MPSC to take action to protect ratepayers during public hearing on Integrated Resource Plan requirements in Grand Rapids

LANSING — Joanna Lewis, program administrator of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF), delivered public commentary yesterday in Grand Rapids at the second hearing in a series of three held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Integrated Resource Plan requirements.

The MPSC is developing guidelines for utility Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) as required under the state’s new energy laws. Utilities will use the parameters determined by the MPSC to develop IRPs that address demand response, energy waste reduction, environmental requirements, supply sufficiency, and other considerations.

“Utilities do a good job engaging their larger commercial and industrial users when developing Integrated Resource Plans,” said Lewis. “Our concern is that the residential and small business stakeholder communities are not being adequately included early on in the utilities’ process. The job of the MPSC is to make sure that this happens – and we appreciate you holding these public hearings for that reason.

“We also want to highlight the important work of independent power producers (IPPs) and the significant jobs they create in Michigan’s biomass, hydro, solar, wind and waste-to-energy sectors. It is important now more than ever that the MPSC ensure a fair and competitive market for Michigan IPPs. Opening market access for IPPs could certainly be a near-term solution to the current debate on local clearing requirements. Ultimately, free markets and competition will drive innovation which will help lower everyone’s energy bill.”

Lewis concludes: “According to the Clean Jobs Midwest report released last week, the Michigan clean energy and energy efficiency sectors employ 92,271 Michiganders. Our state’s transition to clean energy and energy efficiency will make us more competitive in both the national and global energy economies, helping to lower rates and draw significant investment to Michigan. While this transition is inevitable, we must work to make it as seamless as possible, ensuring reliable, abundant, and affordable energy in the meantime.”

MCEF will deliver public commentary at the final MPSC hearing in Marquette on Sep. 19. For more information about the hearings and how to participate, contact MCEF at info@micef.org.

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Michigan Experiences Substantial Clean Energy Job Growth, Emerges as Midwest Leader

Michigan leads in advanced transportation jobs, ranks third in total clean energy jobs according to a new report comparing 12 Midwest states

LANSING — A clean jobs and economic analysis of 12 states released last week demonstrates that Michigan continues to lead in clean energy and energy efficiency job growth in the region. According to the Clean Jobs Midwest report, the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors employ 92,271 Michiganders – a 5.3% jump from the 87,616 jobs the state boasted in 2015, and far greater than the 1.93% overall job growth the state experienced over the same period.

Also of note in the report is Michigan’s continued leadership in electric vehicle jobs. Thanks to the state’s strong automotive and manufacturing history, the advanced transportation industry employs 28,577 Michiganders.

Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF), issued the following statement praising both the clean energy sector’s growth to-date and the state’s recently enacted energy policy that positions Michigan for economic success for years to come:

“MCEF applauds the state’s clean energy industry and the significant job growth that local clean energy businesses have helped secure. Our state’s transition to clean energy and energy efficiency has made us more competitive in both the national and global energy economies. With the recent enactment of Public Acts 341 and 342, which further increase Michigan’s commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency, we can carry this momentum forward and solidify our role as a clean energy leader to attract even more jobs and investment from businesses.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Calls for Increased Electricity Ratepayer Protection, Praises UCPB Efforts at MPSC Public Hearing

LANSING — Joanna Lewis, program administrator of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF), delivered public commentary on Wednesday in Livonia at the first hearing held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Integrated Resource Plan requirements.

The MPSC is developing guidelines for utility Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) as required under the state’s new energy laws. Utilities will use the parameters determined by the MPSC to develop IRPs that address demand response, energy waste reduction, environmental requirements, supply sufficiency, and other considerations.

“It’s important that we speak out on behalf of residential ratepayers to keep our Michigan electricity rates as low as possible,” said Lewis. “Under the leadership of Chairman Jim MacInnes, the Utility Consumer Participation Board (UCPB) acts as the advocate that ratepayers so desperately need. We appreciate the hard work of the UCPB and will continue to support their efforts to hold utilities accountable to ratepayers and small businesses. Currently, there is too much cost shifting from Commercial and Industrial customers to the under-protected Residential class.”

“Many of the stakeholders in this room are well-represented by lobbyists and coalitions, and thus their concerns have been heard. However, residential ratepayers themselves are often left without a voice in the process. Let’s not forget our responsibility to these individuals. The MPSC must do its due diligence to hold utilities accountable to the people of Michigan. We look forward to working with the MPSC throughout this process as we focus on Michigan ratepayers and their need for affordable electric service.”

MCEF will also deliver public comments at the MPSC hearings in Grand Rapids and Marquette on September 13 and September 19, respectively. For more information about the hearings and how to participate, contact MCEF at info@micef.org.


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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Announces Hire of New Program Administrator

LANSING — The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced today the hiring of Joanna Lewis as its new program administrator. In this role, Lewis will support a variety of communications and programming efforts, including the organization’s newly launched Youth Fellowship Program. 

A Michigander originally, Lewis’s political career commenced in Alaska in 2013 as a legislative aide for former State Representative Bob Lynn (R – Anchorage). Most recently she served as a Civil Deputy Clerk for the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University.

MCEF works to educate the public and policymakers on the immense economic and security benefits of diversifying Michigan’s energy portfolio and moving towards a true “All of the Above” generation mix, with an emphasis on transitioning to cleaner and more renewable forms of energy.

“On behalf of our entire Leadership Council, we are excited to welcome Joanna to MCEF,” said Larry Ward, MCEF executive director. “Joanna’s communications, social media management, and policy research experience will help our organization immediately, and I’m certain she will be a valuable member of our team.”

“As a Lansing native, I am thrilled to be back in Michigan, working to highlight the voice of conservatives on clean energy,” said Lewis. “Conservatives have much to offer to the state energy debate, including ideas to help expand the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as to strengthen Michigan’s position as a national leader in attracting clean energy jobs and investment. MCEF has a strong reputation as a clean energy thought leader, and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Dr. Gary Wolfram Testifies on Electric Utility Industry

Wolfram discusses incentive problems and legislative solutions

LANSING – Dr. Gary Wolfram, the director of economics at Hillsdale College, testified yesterday in front of the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee on the issues inherent in Michigan’s current electric utility industry structure and how changes in incentives and legislation could better promote innovation and drive economic growth.

Citing his white paper Improving Michigan’s Electric Utility Industry, commissioned by the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) in 2015, Dr. Wolfram pointed out flaws in misplaced incentives that lead to problems such as significant barriers to entry in the power generation industry, as well as the lack of incentives to allow a new generator of electricity into a utility market. There are also missed opportunities in aspects of energy efficiency, with little to no incentives for utilities to encourage customers to conserve electricity or avoid peak usage times. These misplaced incentives limit both innovations in Michigan’s energy industry as well as proper competition in the marketplace that keeps costs low for ratepayers, ensures efficiency, and responds to consumer demands.

“The problem is the incentives are misaligned with the best resource use, and dampen the innovative urge that has created such wealth in our market economy,” said Wolfram. “If Michigan can develop an electric utility industry that is a leader in cost efficiency and innovation, it will benefit all Michigan citizens as well as the out-of-state customers of our manufacturing and service sectors.”

Possible solutions to these issues, according to Dr. Wolfram, are expanding retail choice and competition, further structurally separating the electric industry by separating ownership of distribution and generation from a single utility company’s control, and enhancing consumers’ ability to purchase renewable energy.

MCEF issued the following statement today in response to Dr. Wolfram’s testimony:

“We appreciate Dr. Wolfram addressing these important concerns with the committee,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “Some of the current incentives and policies in place are not driving innovation and growth in Michigan as they can - and should - be. While national and regional electricity prices are falling, Michigan rates continue to steadily climb. While we have made progress recently with the passage of Public Acts 341 and 342, which aim to address some of these problems outlined by Dr. Wolfram, Michigan still has a ways to go to become a national leader in energy. MCEF looks forward to continuing its work with policymakers, stakeholders, and the public to further improve our state’s energy and economic landscapes.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Michigan Conservative Energy Forum applauds DTE plan to expand investment in renewable energy

LANSING – The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum issued the following statement today regarding DTE Energy’s plan to shutter all its coal plants by 2040, generating 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources:

“We applaud DTE Energy for committing to accelerate investments in clean, renewable energy,” said Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. “An increasingly diversified energy portfolio will not only protect against the price volatility of fuel, but will contribute to our national and grid security and help lower electric rates for families and businesses. By building more renewable energy in Michigan, DTE is also helping to make our state more competitive. This is a welcome announcement for businesses that are looking to put down roots in Michigan and manage their energy costs long-term.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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